About Lynn

lynn jaffeeLynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of the book, Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health, a clear and concise explanation of Chinese medicine for the lay person. She is co-author of the book, The BodyWise Woman, a personal health manual for physically active women and girls. Read more about Lynn...

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Acupuncture for Holiday Stress and Depression

The holidays are coming:  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and winter break.  For many, the thought of the upcoming winter holidays bring images of joyous traditions and time spent with family and friends.  However, there are many who cringe at the thought of the upcoming holidays.  Those people who are alone, struggling financially, isolated from family and friends, or are overwhelmed find this time of year emotionally charged and a source of incredible stress or deep depression.

It may seem like an unlikely juxtaposition to be talking about the holidays and acupuncture.  However, the reality is that acupuncture is extremely effective for emotional conditions such as stress, anxiety, and depression.  Here’s how:

-An acupuncture treatment can sooth the movement of something called Liver Qi, which is the force behind the smooth flow of everything in your body.  This includes your digestion, menses, energy, and even your emotions.  Strong negative emotions makes your Liver Qi stagnate, causing physical symptoms, such as pain, digestive problems, and PMS, as well as emotional symptoms, the most common of which is depression.

-The Heart organ system in Chinese medicine is home to your Shen—the entity that holds your soul, thoughts, memories, and emotions. Your Shen is all about your connection—to other people, your traditions, your reason for being, and your higher power.  When your Shen is unsettled, especially when you’re unhappy, upset, frustrated, or overwhelmed, acupuncture can help nourish your Heart and calm your Shen.

-The act of acupuncture itself is relaxing.  Anyone who has ever had acupuncture can tell you that it’s actually a very calming thing to do.  During the treatment, you rest and listen to relaxing music in a comfortable environment, which is a great way to take time out of the overwhelming craziness that many people associate with the holidays.  Believe it or not, many people fall asleep during their treatment.

-Lots of research has been conducted on the physical effects of acupuncture.  Scientists have found that acupuncture alters your brain chemistry in a good way. Acupuncture stimulates your peripheral nerves (those far away from your brain), which causes an increase in the production of feel-good chemicals in your brain, called endorphins.  Commonly associated with a runner’s high, endorphins can relieve pain, calm you down, and cause mild feelings of euphoria.  Who doesn’t want that?

-The research on acupuncture also suggests that treatments can boost immunity.  When you’re stressed and run down, your immune system is one of the first things to take a hit.  A couple of treatments can be just the thing to help you ward off a nasty cold or seasonal flu.

This year, ask yourself:  Are you going to stress out and struggle through the holidays, or are you going to do something about it?  When you come up with the answer, think about acupuncture.

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